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SAFF Championship Final Preview: India vs. Afghanistan - Can The Lions Of Khorasan Script A Fairytale Finish?
Goal.com previews the clash between the battle hardened Indian team playing against the giant-killing Afghanistani's playing their first final
By Ayush Srivastava
Nirmal, Gawli, Gourmangi, Nabi;
Pereira, Lamare, Climax(c), Miranda;
Faisal, Maqadar, Haroon, Djelaluddin;
Israfeel, Mashriqi, Ata Yamir Ali, Waheed;
Just over a week ago, when India kicked off their SAFF Championship campaign with a 1-1 draw with Afghanistan, an eerie silence and a sense of disappointment was prevalent in the Indian camp, as they felt it was two points dropped against a nation from whom not much was expected.
Coming back to the present, India finds itself in its seventh final of the SAFF Championship. However the focus is entirely on the Afghanistani team, who have fast become the story of the tournament. A motley group of players, scattered across the world, some of them part-timers, have come together and astounded one and all with their performances in the competition by reaching the finals for the first time in their history.
Yousef Kargar’s side have not only shown great team ethic and workrate, they have also been surprisingly skillful on the ball and are not scared of a physical battle either. Coming into the game after a physically shattering but morale boosting triumph over Nepal, the Lions of Khorasan shall definitely give it their best shot when they come up against India.
India Exercise Caution After Bruising Group Tie....
The hosts meanwhile have also progressed well after that first match against Afghanistan. Having brushed aside Bhutan and Sri Lanka, India also dominated the match against Maldives to set up this final clash against Afghanistan.
While everyone expects India to run away with the trophy, Savio Medeira and his boys know that there is no place for complacency against the Afghans, especially after the first group match debacle.
Medeira knows that Afghanistan, having made the final for the first time and with the vociferous support of their war-ravaged nation with them, definitely will need no more motivation to give their best and with India playing infront of their home fans, the pressure to win shall entirely be on the Indians.
Both the teams go into the final with no injury worries and both the coaches shall have their full roster to choose from.
|MEN TO WATCH OUT FOR
Balal Arezou: All of 22 years, the striker has the responsibility of adding that touch of class upfront for the Afghans. Based in Norway, Arezou has dovetailed well with his strike partner Sanjar Ahmadi and has in general been a nuisance to deal with for opposition defenders as he has bought a unique style of skills mixed with physicality.
Center Of Attack For Afghanistan Led By Their Skipper
Tied as the top scorer with Sunil Chhetri at six goals, Arezou’s eyes shall definitely be on scoring the winner which shall combine personal glory with a historic moment in Afghanistan’s football history.
Syed Rahim Nabi: India’s Mr. Versatile has been under-rated within India for far too long. While Jeje Lalpekhlua, Chhetri and Subrata Paul have hogged the limelight in recent years, Nabi has continued to be one of India’s most consistent and dependable players.
For The Sake Of Crying Out Loud, Here's Nabi
Capable of playing anywhere on either wing, Nabi has been holding the Indian defence together during these SAFF Championship, keeping all the opposition players at bay on his wing, while at the same time covering for his defensive colleagues. He has also penned the opposition players back with his barnstorming runs down the wing and got India rolling against Maldives with the crucial opener.
The Mohun Bagan player could finally announce his arrival as a National star for India in the match against Afghanistan.
|DID YOU KNOW?
- India and Afghanistan, the two finalists, are the only two teams in the competition who did not employ a foreign coach.
- Sunil Chhetri and Balal Arezou are both tied on six goals at the top of the scoring sheet. If either of them manage to score in the final then they shall break I.M Vijayan’s record of six goals in the 1997 Championship.
- Afghanistan’s best performance in an international competition before this SAFF Championship was the fourth place finish in the 1951 Asian Games, ironically played at the same venue as the final.
- The two teams have faced each other 13 times with India winning an astonishing 10 times with the Afghans winning just once.
Catch all the latest Live action and match highlights from SAFF Championship here
Top 3 Predictions
India 1-2 Afghanistan
- 22.33 %
India 0-9 Afghanistan
- 11.49 %
India 9-0 Afghanistan
- 8.87 %
|SAFF Championship (SAFF)||11-Dec-2011||India 4 - Afghanistan 0|
|SAFF Championship (SAFF)||03-Dec-2011||India 1 - Afghanistan 1|
|Asia - AFC Challenge Cup 2008 (ACC)||30-Jul-2008||India 1 - Afghanistan 0|
|06-Mar-2013||Myanmar 1 - India 0||ACC|
|04-Mar-2013||Guam 0 - India 4||ACC|
|02-Mar-2013||India 2 - Chinese Taipei 1||ACC|
|06-Feb-2013||India 2 - Palestine 4||FR|
|16-Oct-2012||Singapore 2 - India 0||FR|
|3||Haroon Fakruddin Amiri||Defender|
|13||Ghulam Hazrat Hoddein||Midfielder|
|17||Ata Mohammad Yamir Ali||Midfielder|